When Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrice Cullors founded the Black Lives Matter movement, their intention was to talk about the ways that all black lives are routinely denied basic human rights and dignity and the role of state violence in anti-black racism. It is fitting that this movement was founded by black queer women—women who no doubt understand the ways in which the voices of marginalized groups (women, LGBTQ, disabled, undocumented etc.) have been historically left out of conversations on racial justice and black liberation. In fact, they were purposeful in explicitly centering those groups in the hopes of building a more inclusive and modern black liberation movement.
Yet, for many, Black Lives Matter has somehow become synonymous with addressing state violence against black men while women are left out of the discussion altogether. Black women are centered in the conversation insofar as they are portrayed as mourning mothers, partners or relatives of slain black men
not positioned as victims of violence themselves. This is completely inaccurate. Black women are killed in disproportionate numbers by the police. While we represent only 13 percent of the female population, we account for 33 percent of all women shot to death by police.
On Sunday, one of those women named Charleena Lyles, was shot and killed by police in Seattle. She was just 30 years old:
Just after 10 a.m. Sunday, Seattle police responded after the woman had called to report an attempted burglary at her Magnuson Park apartment. At some point, police said, she displayed a knife and two officers shot and killed her. […]
Family members said she was several months pregnant and had been struggling with mental-health issues for the past year. They said she was concerned authorities would take her children, one of whom they said has Down syndrome.
Lyles had actually called the police to her home that morning to report an attempted burglary. There were three children in her apartment at the time that police shot her—ages 11, 4, and a one-year-old.